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Smith Announces New Agri-Research Advisory Group

- "Another Key Step in Implementing Food Harvest 2020"

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith, today confirmed the implementation of another key recommendation of the Food Harvest 2020 Strategy - the establishment of the Agri-Research Expert Advisory (AREA) Group - which will be responsible for developing a Strategic Research Agenda for Agriculture Research.

The AREA Group has been established on foot of a recommendation contained in the Food Harvest 2020, which stated - "DAFF should establish structures to facilitate greater input and resources from the agriculture industry into the design and structure of primary research programmes".

The Group will complement an existing industry led group chaired by Dan Browne which is developing a Strategic Research Agenda for the Food Sector.

Minister Smith said "Continued investment in research and development will be of crucial importance to enable the growth targets for the sector as set out in Food Harvest 2020 to be achieved. I am delighted to announce details of this new group and I am confident that with the assistance of all of the stakeholders, this group can make a significant contribution to the development of a research agenda for agricultural production public good research."

The Minister also noted the Government's National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 confirmed that "an Agri Research Advisory Group will be established to bring greater industry focus to the design of research programmes which will reflect priority areas identified in Food Harvest 2020."

The Plan also states that future policy in the agri-food sector "must be focused on areas where competitive advantage can be achieved. The sector must become more innovative by investing in research, providing what the consumer wants, applying lean manufacturing techniques and ensuring we have scale at every level to maximise our cost effectiveness."

Minister Smith described the ongoing investment in research in agriculture and the agri-food sector as "critical to the sector's development and reflects the observation in the Food Harvest 2020 Report that 'targeted research and the creation of new knowledge are essential to the achievement of smart and green growth across the sectors".

It is anticipated that a Chair of the Group will be appointed at its first meeting which will be held on Thursday, 24th February.

Note for Editors:

The membership of the Agri-Research Expert Advisory (AREA) Group is

Mr. Brendan Barnes, Animal and Plant Health Association
Prof. Maurice Boland, UCD
Mr. Bart Bonsall, Bioenergy and Biorefinery Competence Centre
Mr. James Brett, Brett Brothers
Dr. Pearse Buckley, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
Ms Laura Burke, Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. Matthew Dempsey, Irish Farmers Journal
Mr. Ray Doyle, Irish Co-operative Organisation Society
Mr. James Fitzgerald, Agricultural Consultants Association
Mr. Paul Kehoe, Farmer
Mr. John Murphy, Goldcrop Ltd.
Dr. Frank O'Mara, Teagasc
Dr. Brian Wickham, Irish Cattle Breeding Federation
Dr. Sinclair Mayne, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will also be represented and will provide secretariat services to the Group.

Date Released: 23 February 2011